Healthy Tips for Your Pets This “Howl”-iday
by Dr. Margaret Meier, DVM, CVSMT, Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley
Many of the things that we traditionally use this holiday season can pose problems for pets. Decorations, seasonal plants, and even the foods we eat can wreak havoc on our pets. This causes, at the very least, a phone call to your veterinarian, and at worst an emergency surgery that was certainly not in the holiday budget. Being aware of these items can make things less stressful for you AND your pets.
We all love to decorate our homes this time of year, as you can see by the aisles and aisles of holiday décor in stores. From our point of view, they brighten our homes and make entertaining fun. From our pet’s point of view, however, they are items to explore, which can mean that they chew and/or eat them. This is where the trouble can start. For example, the shiny tinsel on the tree or the gift wrap ribbon on the gift below it can entice cats, and even curious puppies, to play with these shiny new “toys”. Unfortunately, if they are swallowed, these “toys” can make our pets very sick, very quickly, and often require surgery to remove. If you see your pet chewing on your decorations and he or she begins vomiting, call your veterinarian right away! The sooner we can intervene in these cases, the better the chance of a positive outcome.
Poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and even pine needles from the Christmas tree can pose problems for your cats and dogs. While hearing that poinsettias are toxic is probably nothing new, our clients often tell us that they never expected their pet to try to chew on the decorative plant. The stomach upset that follows always seems to happen when the in-laws are visiting! And while it may not require an emergency visit to the doctor, it certainly adds stress to an already hectic time.
Finally, while sharing a “small bite” with our pets might seem like a reward for good behavior, it’s important to remember that certain things we enjoy can be harmful to our pets. Chocolate, certain nuts, and fruits such as grapes can all be toxic to a dog or cat. And that small bite of turkey, especially the skin or fatty pieces, can be too much for our small pet’s pancreas to digest, leading to the medical condition of pancreatitis and often an extended hospital stay. So as tempting as those big, pleading eyes may be during this season of giving, taking a moment to sit down, relax, and kick back with your pet, giving them the attention they miss as we hustle and bustle around, is really the best gift for both you and your pet. Happy Howlidays from all of us at Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley!